This book took me out of my comfort zone only to circle me straight back to the heart of romance reading bliss. By the end of the book, the emotionalThis book took me out of my comfort zone only to circle me straight back to the heart of romance reading bliss. By the end of the book, the emotional threads all come together, leaving us with two characters we can finally understand as whole people whose relationship feels right. The glare of glamour and erotica kept me dazed for awhile but the depth of the characterization did its own work at the same time, leaving me to end the book with a huge silly smile. Akira and Jacob fit together but the key to their happiness isn't finding each other so much as each of them realizing how they had been suppressing their own capacity to live to the fullest. When everything falls into place it feels like a small glimpse of a world where glory triumphs over gloom :)...more
What I liked: It has that compelling can't-put-it-down feeling where you just have to know what happens next. The backstory with their parents' affairWhat I liked: It has that compelling can't-put-it-down feeling where you just have to know what happens next. The backstory with their parents' affair is a fascinating/unique touch. There's smart, funny writing all over the place. Mia is exasperating but adorable. Vander is exasperating but not a waste of a human being. Charles Wallace is the best. I forgot James is a Shakespeare prof until well after I finished the book, even though part of that smart, funny writing is sustained reference to Shakespeare - congrats to James on perfecting a non-instrusive way to do it. Oh wait did I say Charles Wallace in the best. No he has to tie with Chuffy. Chuffy is THE BEST!
What I didn't like: A number of sex scenes that were aggressive/not quite consensual/way too old school/kind of bordering on assault/not fun for me. We never got to see Vander's reaction to the dresses, or if we did I missed it. Could have used a little more complexity from Vander in general - I think his emotional backstory was great, but when it came to Mia it was mostly a lot of "she's mine" and "she's so hot I'm so glad she's mine." The "she didn't know she was beautiful" thing was fine until it was actually spelled out in Vander's thoughts at which point I was over it. It's relatable that Mia can't appreciate her own body but it's annoying that the reader is invited to dismiss all of her concerns by accepting the empty POV of Vander's lust. A little more substance on this point would have helped. But I can't say this is a book without substance. It's there. And it had far less of the Swiss Cheese quality I always find troubling with James. Though that was there too.
Overall: A fun romance novel but nothing new and exciting except for the backstory with their parents' affair - and that has quite a lot of tragedy woven into it so not exactly something to grab onto as shiny and fun....more
I love, love, love this book! After finishing The Mistake, I thought I couldn't possibly like another installment of this series more than that one,I love, love, love this book! After finishing The Mistake, I thought I couldn't possibly like another installment of this series more than that one, which is a perfect confection of sweetness and right. But this - this is something else altogether, and I adore it.
The blurb is misleading; Allie damn well does have a first, second, and three hundreth clue about what she wants to do after graduation - she's got a ten year career under her belt. The real question for her is whether she's going to go in the direction she always thought she wanted, or whether she's going to follow her instincts on a different path. Allie is fantastic as far as I'm concerned. She's level-headed, she's self-protective, and she faces life head on. She has a bit of learning and growing to do after getting out of a relationship that wasn't worth staying in, but she is by no means heartbroken by her loser ex. Her consideration of her father's failing health is the biggest anchor for her life, in both the negative sense of burden and the positive sense of grounding. I really enjoyed getting to know Allie, and reading her POV was as comfortable as a second skin (which sounds creepy but I do mean it was comfortable!). There was an engimatic scene in The Mistake that had me expecting Sabrina as Dean's heroine, so I was not expecting to like Allie at all, but I have never been more glad to enter a book with wrong expectations!
But what really steals this book for me...Dean. Dear lord, Dean! Underneath his swagger and his sex-craziness, there is a beautifully giving heart and a deliciously sensible personality. I just. He really won me over, ok. I tend to think Lord of Scoundrels is more about Dain growing up than about Dain and Jess' love story. Dean gives me similar feels. He actually has himself pretty well together for most of the book; the part where he's a sorry mess is pretty short. But there's still this exhilarating feeling of an arc to his growth, and it was very satisfying to read. I'm not sure I can forgive Kennedy for the tragic curveball she throws late into the book - it was like getting a sucker punch as a reader, and I wish she had found almost any other way. But if I try not to think about it too much, I can definitely appreciate just how great it was to see Dean come back from the depths.
It was an intense, utterly spell binding read, with hot and funny sex (how can I not love a hero who never hesitates to invite his girlfriend's special friend Winston ;), a relationship I was always rooting for, and believable challenges and growth for both the leads. I utterly adore this book and am so glad I gave it a chance!...more
Tears dripped down my face as I read this book and a tension headache mounted with every torque of angst between the leads. But the end was exhilaratiTears dripped down my face as I read this book and a tension headache mounted with every torque of angst between the leads. But the end was exhilarating and all told it was a delicious read.
Zoella's family never sees her as more than an obligation. Fardeen's family never sees him as less than a prince. Life throws them together into the kind of marriage that everyone hopes will stick only by force of the word marriage. Zoella gives endlessly of herself to make Fardeen better, only to find herself hollow when he is better. Fardeen absorbs her goodness while he's a blind pit of need, but eventually he realizes how much he hurt her without knowing it. There's some game-playing near the end and a flash-makeover that isn't strictly necessary, but I enjoyed it all. The narrative was uneven and patchy in some places, but I forgot about that as the emotional intensity swept me through the story. Looking forward to reading more books by Zeenat Mahal!...more
It pains me to speak poorly of Balogh. I admire her immensely and am generally able to keep from having to say anything negative about her books by avIt pains me to speak poorly of Balogh. I admire her immensely and am generally able to keep from having to say anything negative about her books by avoiding the ones I can tell I wouldn't like. This one is almost-great - until you take five seconds to think about the actual plot and relationship dynamics and it all falls apart. ...more
**spoiler alert** If you are comfortable with historicals that take inordinate license with the mores that are supposed to constrain their settings, t**spoiler alert** If you are comfortable with historicals that take inordinate license with the mores that are supposed to constrain their settings, this might be the book for you. It wasn't for me. Because there's no way a gentleman can bed his best friend's not-remotely-of-age sister (age of majority was at least 21; she was not-quite-17) for weeks on end and not consider himself an outright scoundrel. It's kind of cool that the heroine has such independence to act on her sexuality, except that it fits so poorly with the time period. Also, I can't respect a book with errors like using "illicit" for "elicit" and carelessness with titles (does the Duke have a barony that's older than his dukedom? Is there some other reason for him to be addressed as "Lord Weston"? How can the heroine be called Lady anything when her father was never an English peer? Why did only the incensed hero, and not everyone else, call her Mrs. MacKinnon after her fictitious marriage?)....more
The only thing I didn't like about this book is that it ended. The heroine is strong and smart and independent. The hero is capable and driven and accThe only thing I didn't like about this book is that it ended. The heroine is strong and smart and independent. The hero is capable and driven and accommodating. There's an adorable child and a well-placed grandmother. Their jobs matter a lot and are grounded in reality. So glad I found it, a totally unexpected delight. And all Canadian!!...more
LOVED reading this book. Rai's voice is funny and smart, and I was just so happy to sink into the tone she works with. The sex and attraction were soLOVED reading this book. Rai's voice is funny and smart, and I was just so happy to sink into the tone she works with. The sex and attraction were so hotly rendered, absolutely on point with plenty of detail yet not becoming tedious, ever. And better than that, the emotional journey was deeply satisfying. Loved to see Rana and Micah trying to stick to their deal and then being honest with themselves, if not each other, when they couldn't. Loved to see Rana face her demons about being pretty but not smart. Loved to witness Micah's healing - and was very intrigued at his less than cliche backstory. And oh, can I just say? LOVED SO MUCH that both leads were brown and it was neither a big deal nor entirely ignored. Rana being desi gets some play. Micah's mixed background is explained but not made a fuss of. Just so real and I'm honestly grateful beyond words that writers like Rai can write stories like this and readers like me get to read them. Now, can we please get an awesome story for Leena? :D...more
WOW. Just, wow. A tough read at first, with much darker tones right from the beginning than I had expected from Dev (in comparison to her first releasWOW. Just, wow. A tough read at first, with much darker tones right from the beginning than I had expected from Dev (in comparison to her first release, A Bollywood Affair). But the emotional journey picks up speed going along, and ultimately I found this an exhilarating and satisfying read. Is it romance? Not really; much more women's fiction. Is the hero realistic? No, but he's everything the heroine needs, sometimes to grow towards, sometimes to grow against, sometimes as just her safe haven. The portrayal of another character's mental illness didn't feel at all relatable to me - very old-fashioned, clearly channelling Bronte. But there is a space in this world for contemporary stories featuring characters whose mindset is not exactly our own. I am so thrilled this one got published. Also, I have no clue how the title is supposed to relate to the book, and it frustrates me that this marketing gimmick constrains the series. I'd love to know what Dev actually wanted to call these novels. ...more
I adore this book! The first half was slow, and I got annoyed at the characters because they didn't really seem to have any problems. But the last halI adore this book! The first half was slow, and I got annoyed at the characters because they didn't really seem to have any problems. But the last half was perfect. The conflict is simple but feels real, and what left me so happy as I finished this book is how relatable it felt. It means a lot to desi authors telling desi stories under the Harlequin banner! Definitely on my re-read for comfort list. Recommended for anyone who has the patience for a slice-of-life read and a romance that leaves you going "aww, how sweet!" Trigger warning, though - implied assault of a secondary character mentioned as backstory only. ...more
A complicated book to like. Would probably improve on a reread. Got way better towards the last third, though I wouldn't say the resolution is robust.A complicated book to like. Would probably improve on a reread. Got way better towards the last third, though I wouldn't say the resolution is robust. 9/23/15
********** I used to be a pretty big Sherry Thomas fangirl, but then she wrote faster than I read so it's not really fair for me to claim that title - even though it's totally still true in spirit. I'm working my way through this book with ambivalent feelings on it for itself, but I keep getting sideswept by connections between this work and the others of Thomas' that I've read. Whether these connections are legit or a figment of my overactive mind is certainly debatable. But for the purposes of my sanity I'm going to keep a running tab of them here and hopefully get around to a proper review eventually.
-Bennett is Gigi and Camden's (Private Arrangements) several-greats-grandson (this is narrative fact) -Bennett reminds me a hell of a lot of Camden, personality wise, and Leo (Not Quite A Husband), with the loving older women thing -Eva has a backstory much like Bryony (NQAH) - lost her mother young, got super attached of her father's second wife, did not much like her father's third wife -Zelda-Toddy (NQAH) parallels are probably minimal but my mind wants to make something of it -Eva is a profly wonder like Leo, Bennett is a doctor like Bryony -Eva's social-aspirational father is like Gigi's mother -Bennett is a Somerset, like Bertie was (Delicious)
I avoid first-person present-tense narratives as a rule, and I have yet to warm up to the NA genre. But this book blew me out of the water, and I'm soI avoid first-person present-tense narratives as a rule, and I have yet to warm up to the NA genre. But this book blew me out of the water, and I'm so glad I broke my own rules and read it. Both main characters have compelling, relatable voices, and not once did I get bored of being in their perspectives. The chemistry is hot hot hotttt well before they get to sex. And I think it's kind of adorable that (view spoiler)[they actually don't have sex until they're married (hide spoiler)] - it's not an ideological thing so much as a timing thing, so I didn't get any 'grossly old school' vibes from it. I LOVED the characters' backgrounds - I'm not Jewish but anything that foregrounds diversity appeals to me. I was really happy to be invited into the world of Gen's warm Mexijew family, and I also really liked the glimpses of Adam's life in Israel. This book has a beautiful definition of love at its centre, repeating at key moments that the right person for you is the one who believes in you and pushes you to be more than you think you can be. Overall the tone is pretty light, but the emotion is there if you want to enter into it. The only problem with the story is that the characters don't have much in the way of problems - and yet the conflict that arises very late in the story feels so real. Not storybook pretty or exciting, and yet very much worth writing about. So thank you Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt for this fun, passionate, and satisfying read!!...more
Loved loved loved it. Thank you so much Sonali Dev. A desi love story with so much weight and feeling, but with completely contemporary, fresh, my-worLoved loved loved it. Thank you so much Sonali Dev. A desi love story with so much weight and feeling, but with completely contemporary, fresh, my-world characters. Loved everything beyond words. Am convinced that title is a stupid marketing ploy and wish I knew what the author really wanted to call the story.
So much humour and depth and amazingness. I felt in the hands of an expert and I was so pleased. I have nothing coherent to say, though this book deserves a proper analytical review, because I want the world to know exactly why I liked it so much. But for now all I can do is say that I liked it SO MUCH....more
Appealing leads, lots of humor, interesting drama and backstory. That scene where the heroine's land holdings are disclosed piecemeal and the hero andAppealing leads, lots of humor, interesting drama and backstory. That scene where the heroine's land holdings are disclosed piecemeal and the hero and his crew are shocked and then more shocked and then on the floor with their teeth knocked out...metaphorically...might be the best thing I've ever seen in a medieval romance :D...more
I read this around my own first year at McGill - the setting being the only reason I'd picked it up. I remember it as unsatisfying and melancholic, anI read this around my own first year at McGill - the setting being the only reason I'd picked it up. I remember it as unsatisfying and melancholic, and I couldn't stand the fragmented narration. In retrospect I see that I was judging it as a sort of YA comfort read, which it is really not. Rather, it's a literary writing exercise with tediously young characters. Not bad on its own terms, but something you'd have to be in a very particular frame of mind to enjoy. ...more
An uneven and difficult book, but Probst pulls it through in the end.
What I Liked +an uncompromising heroine: Julietta struggles with inner turmoil atAn uneven and difficult book, but Probst pulls it through in the end.
What I Liked +an uncompromising heroine: Julietta struggles with inner turmoil at key points in the story, but she is always, always true to herself. Points to Probst for writing an independent, career-focused heroine who doesn't turn unrecognizable when dealing with her own vulnerability.
+a hero with a huge heart: Sawyer's seedy past really seeps into his thinking at some points, and the reader can easily understand why he sees himself as a bad guy who has done dark deeds. But all that fades far into the background given the evidence of his caring, nurturing side in the present of the story, especially as relates to...
+Wolfe!!! Can't say more without spoilers, but man, the inclusion of this character was inspired and totally made the book for me. Hope he gets his own book...in due time ;)
+that motorcycle scene: surprising, fresh, and a perfect way to get to know the characters and to get them together early in the story.
+shared silences: a swoony quality of romance that I haven't previously noticed in any other romance novel; Probst uses it to great effect between two characters who each have to make a long journey from their own interiority to fully meet as lovers and partners.
+Probst's evocative language: The glorious food and the rich sweeps of Milanese setting detail add much to the book in terms of glamor and heft, but what really stands out for me are some of Probst's perfect turns of phrase in similies and images like:
A bolt of need shot through him like a stray bullet tearing through vulnerable flesh.
Like a sinner seeking penance, Sawyer bent his head and pressed a kiss to her open palm. Julietta sensed something deeper in his actions and craved to follow the path leading to a thicket of thorns, poison ivy, and endless predators poised to tear flesh.
Her body melted under his instruction; her mind cracked open to allow secret entry that both humbled and inspired him. He craved her like a drug injected in his veins, and though it was unpredictable and chaotic and unplanned, he needed her.
...OK, out of context those sound rather lurid, overwritten and purple prosy, but trust me - scattered as they are throughout an otherwise skillfully written but mundane narrative, these little moments are powerful and perfect.
What I'm Conflicted About *the bedroom dynamics: Sawyer is hot, compassionate, and skilled. Pretty much every sex scene was worth reading for the woven-in emotional development and characterization - I don't remember having to skip over boring swathes of mechanics. But I was surprised by and not entirely onboard with the degree to which Julietta "needed" Sawyer to control her experience. I understand that it can be that way for people in real life, and I could see how Probst was trying to show a BDSM-lite that works within conventional romance narratives. I've read and enjoyed erotica that takes the sub/dom dynamic much much farther. I just really wasn't expecting as much handwaving away of active consent in what I thought was a mainstream romance novel. Some moments read like old-school alpha/ingenue encounters of the least palatable kind. You could say the political got in the way of the erotic for me and maybe that's not fair to hold against the book...but it definitely left me conflicted.
*sloppy writing: On the whole, Probst's writing is quality. But there are some really frustrating slips. Sawyer is a "primitive" barely contained by "civilisation"? The management team at Purity are defined by stereotypes of hair colour? Blergh.
*tonal shifts: The book just felt really uneven to me. The beginning was so stilted I barely made it through; I figure Probst was trying to write from Julietta's mental space, but it's really uncomfortable for the reader to start from there. Everything felt stilted, stale and over-contained until we learn about Wolfe's place in Sawyer's life. Then it got delicious and real and engrossing. But, the story lists at further points. Some of the unevenness has to do with the starts-and-stops in Sawyer's difficult emotional journey. Some of it has to do with the unwieldy balance of erotic and emotional content. Some of it felt right, but some of it really didn't.
*Mama Conte: Ok, no seriously, WHAT?! The forced marriage device just about barely made sense for Michael/Maggie and Carina/Max. But in this book it was so transparently a device, so without convincing motivation (sorry, the whole 'Papa worried for Julietta' thing seems super anemic to me) that I couldn't just accept it. It's a lame way to move things forward, though I'll concede it's efficient and therefore necessary. I feel like Julietta and Sawyer's story deserved a more authentic and interesting turning point, and would've been stronger for it...but I guess I can't think of one and neither could Probst.
*Mama Conte in the epilogue: Poetic and fitting but OH SO HEARTBREAKING, WHY PROBST WHY. Sigh.
*The Spell Book: So ephemeral in the end, and yet also the underpinning of the series, notwithstanding Mama Conte. On the one hand I approve of how it just remains a fun question of mystery. On the other hand I feel cheated out of Some Explanation, Damnit! I see that it was published as an add-on to the series but something within the text would've been much more satisfying
*Fitting in the rest of series: Actually, after the initial re-introduction of the whole motley crew, I think Probst makes great use of the characters from the previous books. Julietta gets some much needed girl-talk time and Sawyer gets to socialize with the guys. Just imagining that gathering of four heroes at a table who all now happen to be brothers-in-law...what a treat! BUT, that initial re-introduction? So chaotic and painful and I would've been at sea if I hadn't already read the rest of the series.
In sum: an engrossing story with a few weak moments, strong on romance but not the pretty kind. Not perfect escapist fare because it made me think and feel a lot of complex things. Wish I could give it more stars but I really feel too conflicted about the central erotic dynamic - the great characters, mostly lovely writing, and lush emotional narrative don't counterbalance that key problem for me....more